Geoffrey Chaucer, A Treatise on the Astrolabe

Michelle Brooks
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Geoffrey Chaucer’s A Treatise on the Astrolabe is a unique example of late medieval scientific prose writing. It is also the Chaucerian text that most explicitly expresses the English poet’s ideas about language, translation, and the power of literature to shape the human understanding of the universe. The Treatise is a late-career text, written between 1391 and 1392, roughly the same period during which Chaucer also wrote much of The Canterbury Tales. Thirty-two medieval manuscripts survive today, suggesting that the Treatise was the poet’s second most widely copied and circulated text behind the Tales.

Deriving its name from the Greek term for “star-catching” or “star-tak­ing”, the astrolabe is a small, circular brass instrument etched with a miniature representation of

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Citation: Brooks, Michelle. "A Treatise on the Astrolabe". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 11 October 2022 [, accessed 06 December 2023.]

6921 A Treatise on the Astrolabe 3 Historical context notes are intended to give basic and preliminary information on a topic. In some cases they will be expanded into longer entries as the Literary Encyclopedia evolves.

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